Who’s Story Is This Anyway? A Word about POV and Manuscript Length

August 4, 2011

The first manuscript I ever wrote is told from the POV of four different characters: Hero, Heroine, Heroine’s father and Heroine’s father’s love interest. I didn’t think much about whether this was a right or wrong approach to telling the story. I suspect my recreational reading (all multiple-character POV novels) had something to do with that.

Three more multiple-character POV manuscripts spilled out of me before I started studying the market for submission. I spent hours debating where I fit in and how I wanted my career to build. This internal dialogue led me to category romance novels.

With the category model in my head, I shortened my word counts and ignored any POV that didn’t come from the hero or heroine. I wrote two new manuscripts this way, feeling very confident in my abilities. I fully expected to continue on the limited word count, H&H-only POV path until the day I died (no exaggeration). Needless to say, it surprised me when around the fourth chapter of my WIP my heroine’s father popped in with something to say.

I told Barry to take a seat somewhere in the back of my mind—Good luck, Buddy. It’s crowded in there. I’m pretty sure all the good seats are taken.—and I wrote the scene from the heroine’s POV. The scene worked, and I didn’t think much about Barry again, until…

Last night, I started a new book—a category-length contemporary—on the heels of finishing two, nice, fat multiple-character POV contemporaries. I felt restless, a what-is-the-meaning-of-this, fingers-pressed-to-my-eye-sockets kind of restless. Wouldn’t you know, Barry showed up again, and he wasn’t asking for a more comfortable seat in the back of my head. No, Barry wants his say.

So twenty thousand words into a book I was writing specifically with Harlequin Desire in mind, I’m going to let Barry have his say. I’m going to go back to that point in Chapter Four and let him speak. And then I’m going to write past the fifty-five-thousand-word mark and hope I can do this story justice without panicking over market trends and career arcs.

It’s never easy, is it?

How about you? If you write category-length or novella-length works, do you sometimes struggle with the thought of writing longer? What about POV? Do you stick to the H&H, or do you let other characters have a say?


2 Responses to “Who’s Story Is This Anyway? A Word about POV and Manuscript Length”

  1. Ah good old POV….

    I struggled with this when I tried to fit my writing into category. Well POV and length tbh. One of the most liberating things for my writing was to just let the words flow and worry over where to place it later.

    I still mainly restrict POV to hero and heroine, but in my latest ms I have three, but then again there is one heroine and two heroes and no, not in that way 😛

    This approach seems to be working for me, cause I have just been offered a contract for my erotic short, which incidentally only has the heroine’s Pov, coming on top of one for my Erotic Romance.

    Well, you did want me to keep you informed 😉

    Now if only this baby would shift….

  2. How exciting! You’d think all the happy writing news would be enough to make you “pop” right now. 🙂 I’m thrilled for you, Doris.


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